A Lesson in Bedside Manner 5-8-2022

It was near the end of the E.R. resident’s second straight week of 14-hour night shifts. She was nauseated and cold from fatigue.
At 5 A.M. she was called to the examining room to see an 86-year-old man. Looking at the triage report, she had him categorized immediately: He’s going to be demented. He won’t be able to give me any history. Taking a deep breath, she began.
“I’m sorry to wake you, sir”, she said, trying not to overreact, reminding herself that this happens countless times. “Here’s some water”, offering him a glass.
As he sipped, she started firing questions at him about his symptoms and medical history. His speech was painfully slow, his answers inconclusive. She tossed the chart aside. On to the physical examination.
“My hands are cold”, she warned.
“Do what you have to do, Doctor”.
The doctor placed her frigid palm on his chest as she listened through her stethoscope. He didn’t flinch.
When she finished, he grasped her hand. Then the old man, who moved so slowly and painfully, began to rub her hand rapidly between his. The doctor stared at him with a combination of disbelief and annoyance.
“To warm you up, Doctor. My wife also gets cold when she’s tired. This helps her. You should be taking care of yourself; not old men like me”.
When he finished rubbing one hand, he took her other one. It felt incredibly good; the doctor continued to watch, but now in amazement.
He was the sick one, not her. And yet this man, the object of her impatience, was concerned about her well-being.
The doctor’s haste dissipated. At that moment, it was the patient, not the doctor, who had the healing touch.
The “voice” of Christ speaks to all of us – but to hear his voice demands that we come out of the soundproof isolation of our own interests and needs and hear Christ speaking in the plight of the poor, the needs of the helpless, the cry of the persecuted. Easter faith calls us to put aside our own crosses when we hear the voice of Jesus pleading in the struggle of those being crushed under the weight of their crosses; to rise above our own pain when we hear the voice of Jesus crying out in the pain of others; to give from our treasure when we hear the voice of Jesus begging in the poverty of others.


Comments are closed.